The Ed Tech Year In Review Through Song 2019 Edition

Our 2019 Playlist for The Ed Tech Year In Review Through Song

Manic Monday – The Bangles (and Prince)

Chosen by Stephanie 

Monday’s always feel like a production! Getting up is harder than any other day of the week, getting motivated to work, and it seems like traffic is never agreeable!  

thank u, next – Ariana Grande

Chosen by Aly 

With each new tech tool, project, or endeavor that I take, I learn so much. I’ve learned this year that it’s okay to try a bunch of different tools, and say “thank you, next” to some, while sticking with others for the long-term. 

My Generation – The Who

Chosen by Joshua 

I think we were all kind of caught up in two Gen Z phenomena this year. 

First there was the breakout hit of Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ which originated on and was fueled by Tik Tok, which has become quite the cultural force in its own right. In terms of educational technology,  I see Old Town Road and Tik Tok as expressions/tools of Gen Z’s voice finally breaking through.  

So when Roger Daltry sings ‘I’m not tryng to ‘cause a big s-s-sensation (talkin’ ‘bout my generation’) I think it would be wise to remember that Old Town Road and Tik Tok are not some kind of crazy thing that the youth are doing to cause a scene. Instead, we need to see them as part of Gen Z’s desire to be heard and the new avenues of technology they are using to do so. 

Speaking of a desire to be heard, the second Gen Z phenomena this year was OK Boomer. 

This, perfect for the internet update of the old ‘never trust anybody over 30’ is a cutting reminder that students want to have their own voice. I think Pete Townsend echoed that sentiment with the ‘I hope I die before I get old’ 

So my question, as the Gen Z cohort, which is really the first generation to be immersed in a technology rich learning environment, goes through the system (the youngest are in the middle of first grade right now) how are they going to use technology to give voice to themselves and tell their own stories. And further more, what, as educators, are we going to do to show them we are listening. 

Build Me Up Buttercup – The Foundations

Chosen by Kris 

This year for me has been all about helping teachers feel more comfortable integrating technology into their classroom practices.  Building up their confidence by supporting them through brainstorming sessions, teaching or co-teaching a lesson, or just being a helping hand as they can do their thing. 

Technologic – Daft Punk

Chosen by Stephanie

So, there is some repetitiveness to our role when transition time comes. Since we work really on an individual basis, we often get the same questions. My go-to responses are: “What browser are you using?”, “Did you try restarting it?” and “Classlink and Office 365 require a password, did your student accidentally make their password blank?” 

Every Breath You Take – The Police

Chosen by Joshua

Security and privacy have come to the forefront in both the educational and the societal technology spheres. Whether it is trying to get COPPA compliant or another news story about a data breach, we are all kind of grappling with what it means to be living in a world where our tools are vacuuming up data. 

I’m particularly concerned that our students are particularly at risk and are often having their data (and themselves) handed over for the convenience and simplicity of free or cheap tools. 

This year, we started taking this question seriously, including creating a new process for app and web tool approval. However, we have a long way to go and I worry that we may be too late. 

Deep Blue – Arcade Fire

Chosen by Stephanie

Computers are taking over in various forms! As much as I love tech, we all need to learn to disconnect once and while. But it is still cool to think of where tech was and where it is going…AI, programming, engineering…it really does seem like the possibilities are endless.  

Fitter Happier -Radiohead

Chosen by Joshua

I’ve had a Radiohead poster with the opening lines of Fitter Happier in my classroom and now in my cubicle for years. It was written back in the 90s during the dotcom boom but I think has more relevance than ever. 

Over the last year I’ve spent a lot of time reading and reflecting on social and emotional effects of technology on our lives, and in particular, my life. One of the conclusions that I’ve drawn is that baked into the way much of our information technology is made and sold is this idea that more is always better; That happiness is just around the corner with the latest update or the newest wearable. 

This is nothing new in our society of course and it fits a message that has long been the calling card of a consumerist culture, that we can buy and work our way to happiness. 

While I certainly have spent a lot of time exploring the effects of technology in my own life, I’ve been particularly struck by its impact on the lives of our students. 

In many ways our students are checking more and more of the boxes, achieving at a higher rates and doing so much more (I see you Greta!) but we are also seeing higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicide. 

These are obviously complex problems that don’t have simple explanations but I do think that educational technology is playing a role as it can reinforce some of the most pernicious aspects of our capitalist society.  

I think things like the constant stream of feedback that comes from the powerful formative assessment tools we love are amplifying those effects and potentially harming our kids. 

Consequently I’m hopeful that we can begin carving out more spaces that are quieted from the relentless pressures and look at how we can use these amazing tools constructively to support a healthy balance.  

One place to start is moving away from this idea that more is always better and helping students learn how to use these tools to deepen their learning and support the things that bring them joy and meaning rather than just to make them better. 

On another note, I think it was an interesting choice to use a robot voice to perform this song…the word robot comes from the czech word for forced labor and I think it raises a question: are these tools serving us or are we serving them? 

#SELFFIE – The Chainsmokers

Chosen by Stephanie

As the #OGSelfie-taker (ie a camera, film, print it out and find out if you look cute or not)…I surprisingly do NOT really identify with the current selfie culture. But I think there is a lot to learn from it from a digital citizenship standpoint. I like that this is poking fun at it, and I hope our younger generations can find that sense of humor in their own social interactions. 

Ironic – Alanis Morissette

Chosen by Aly

Sometimes technology is ironic… it trips us up when we think we have it all figured out, and works perfectly when we’re prepared to troubleshoot. It keeps us on our toes and makes us more resilient. 

Never Surrender – Corey Hart

Chosen by Kris

So, we all know that best laid plans do not always go the way we had hoped, and teaching is not immune to this.  teaching with technology can be especially trying at times with devices don’t see to connect to the internet, student accounts don’t seem to work, shared documents don’t seem to be…well…shared.  We feel you all out there. Keep up the good fight…and never surrender!!!!  

You Can’t Hurry Love – The Supremes

Chosen by Joshua

I don’t know if it’s a theme unique to this year in Ed Tech, but I was struck by how many times I found myself urging teachers to be patient while learning to use a new tool. In particular, I urged iteration and learning from mistakes rather than using and losing. 

 So I think with tech, it is important to give and to take with the goal in mind of finding out how many heartaches you are willing to stand.  

Fly Me to the Moon – Frank Sinatra

Chosen by Aly

Technology is so powerful – the capacity to connect with others, and to see things you might not otherwise get to see (HELLO GOOGLE EXPEDITIONS). Yes, it’s a love song but technology can also connect us with our loved ones. 

Shake It Up – The Cars

Chosen by Joshua

With the passing of Ric Ocasek this year, I had to include a song from the Cars. 

One of the themes every year is figuring out how you are going to shake it up. Educational technology helps with that but isn’t enough by itself. 

This got me thinking about the rise of and power of the growth mindet. I love when Ocasel sings Don’t you worry ‘bout two left feet’ It’s the perfect metaphor for embracing growth in using technology. Teachers need to model embracing productive failure to students and don’t have to be the master of the tech. Instead, they need to look into how tech can help shake it up and not be afraid to trip sometimes…as long as they are willing to ‘dance all night and keep the beat’ 

Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah) – Andy Grammer

Chosen by Kris

Isn’t great when we find a tool that really works with our students and our classroom and becomes the goto?  When that happenes, it is like… Hallelujah!  It makes life so much better in the classroom.  It enhances the student learning and just feels good.  Like it is just good to be alive.  Some of our teachers may feel that way when they use teams for collaboration, or OneNote to collect learning, or ClassKick practice concepts or yes…Seesaw!! for collecting best work! When a tool makes it easier to manage, teach and learn, it is pretty good to be alive when that happens!  Hallelujah, Amen 

The Neverending Story – Limahl

Chosen by Joshua

I think this is the perfect song to end on…as we are reaching tech saturation in our schools we need to remember that learning about and integrating technology is never ending story that gives all the chance to Male believe I’m everywhere…Reach the stars, fly a fantasy and dream a dream.’ 

I think that is especially prescient in this year, the 50th anniversary of our first trip to the moon. 

That was a dream that became real through a never ending pursuit of learning and new technology. 

Want to listen to it on your phone or tablet? Click on the buttons below to open it in your favorite podcast app.

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We’d also love for you to check out the band Clipping. and Sub Pop Records who have generously allowed us to use the song A Better Place in our show. You can also find Clipping.’s music on the TV show The Mayor.

clipping.The Mayor  Sub Pop Logo

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